THE furor triggered by the so-called Lorenzana Bill regarding a new separation, retirement and pension bill for members of the Philippine National Police has prompted the PNP leadership to ask Congress to ensure that the proposed legislative measure would follow the Constitution and well-entrenched public policies specifically the prospective application of laws.
The measure proposed by Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana has sparked debates among active and retired members of the police force who have been alarmed that they would be affected by the proposal once it is passed into law. Thus, officials have sought a study on what will be the difference between their current and future pension and retirement pays once the measure is approved.
PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde has written Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to consider their comments and recommendations once they tackle the Unified Military and Uniformed Services Personnel (MUP) Separation, Retirement and Pension Bill proposed by Sec. Lorenzana following a study made by an inter-agency Technical Working Group led by the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Treasury.
In his letter to the two top lawmakers, Gen. Albayalde said that the PNP recommends that Section 4 of the proposed bill be reworded to clearly indicate the prospective application of the Bill only to New Entrants, to wit: “Section 4. Applicability.—This Act shall apply to all NEW ENTRANTS WHO SHALL JOIN THE (retired and active) Military and Uniformed Services (Personnel) AFTER THE EFFECTIVITY OF THIS ACT; Provided, that only the existing uniformed personnel of NAMRIA at the date of the effectivity of this Act shall be covered thereby; Provided, finally, That those classified as New Entrants in NAMRIA shall be covered by the Pension System of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).”
In addition to the prospective application of its provisions, the PNP said that “the bill should also uphold the principle of non-diminution of benefits, which is already provided for or guaranteed by existing laws. A long line of Supreme Court cases have consistently declared that “the principle of non-diminution of benefits is founded on the constitutional mandate to protect the rights of workers, protect their welfare, and afford labor full protection.”
In his letter, Gen. Albayalde said that “should this bill be enacted, it should be applied prospectively and not retroactively, so as not to result in adverse effects upon PNP pensioners or their survivors, who are already enjoying legally mandated benefits under existing laws.”
The PNP chief cited that in PITC vs CoA, the Supreme Court ruled that “in reserving the benefits to incumbents, the legislature has manifested its intent to gradually phase out this privilege without upsetting the policy of non-diminution xxx and consistent with the rule that laws should only be applied prospectively in the spirit of fairness and justice. xxx”
TO BE CONTINUED)